Dominican Republic trip shows positive, sustainable change

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“Bob’s notes” are reports from CFCA President Bob Hentzen, who regularly accompanies mission awareness trip participants. You can see Bob’s full update on his Facebook page.

We really had an “early-morning CFCA flight” out of Kansas City.

Twenty-eight students and faculty from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., boarded our same flight for Atlanta.

From Atlanta, Cristina and I went to a mission awareness trip to the Dominican Republic, and they are en route to a CFCA mission awareness trip to El Salvador.

Godspeed, dear friends. Thanks for keeping CFCA on the move!

At CFCA, we favor a culture of learning and listening.

Here are a few things I have heard this week in the Dominican Republic.

Sponsored youth Monica to her Puerto Rican sponsors, Beridiana and Rafael: “It has been many years. You are much more than sponsors. You are like my parents, and I love you.” (These sponsors have been with CFCA for 23 years.)

Sponsor: “Something I learned on the mission awareness trip (MAT) to Chile. Please keep in mind the elderly. Chile was my first MAT, but I’ll be going on many more trips with CFCA.”

Sponsor: “Since sponsoring this young lady, my life has changed.”

Sponsor Mirtie, a registered nurse, shared this idea: “The mothers group structure has so many possibilities. These groups can be places of influential learning with the encouragement of natural leaders.

“Mothers group leaders can receive orientation and capacity training in many areas like preventive health care: vaccinations, purifying water, care of newborns and first-aid.

“In turn, they can share this training with their local community. Simple videos are very effective for this communication.”

Some of Bob’s notes from home visits with families in the sponsorship program

  • At age 26, Mari is a single mother of four precious little girls ages: 11, 8, 5 and 3. This loving family is the very picture of struggle and vulnerability.
  • Dominga shared with a shy smile that she was married at a young age. Now in her 30s, she has returned to school and will soon graduate from high school. She hopes to go on to university. Dominga says she wants to be able to provide for Alexander, her 8-year-old stepson.
  • Joselin is an admirable young mother of six children, from age 20 down to 2. She was abandoned by her husband. Her boy Jose is sponsored. He suffers from sickle-cell anemia. Fortunately, Joselin belongs to a CFCA mothers group, albeit in the initial stages of organization. In spite of many blows in life, including having to leave school early, Joselin has returned to high school. Her 20-year-old daughter Sofia has finished high school and would like to go on to college. The CFCA project in Santo Domingo is inviting Sofia to apply for a scholarship. Their simple home in a landfill area shows signs of budding dignity and hope.
  • On one of our home visits, a father of a sponsored child asked the sponsors, “How do you feel in our neighborhood?” Our wish and our prayer is that sponsored friends and their families may come to see themselves as part of a worldwide movement ó shared with their sponsors.

We really enjoyed our gathering with about 200 sponsored children and families from Pantoja. The Amico Sisters who serve this community hosted the afternoon event.

In spite of living in overcrowded and precarious conditions, the children were very well prepared for their participation. I (Bob) took everyone on a musical tour of the CFCA world.

Other notes

According to the World Bank, 25 percent of our people live in extreme poverty. Ten percent of the population controls 50 percent of available resources.

CFCA Hope for a Family is creating the base for positive and sustainable change in the Dominican Republic. We have about 6,000 sponsored friends as well as 105 scholars.

The mountainous area “up country” is quite cool and green. Tireo and Constanza are areas served by CFCA. This area is known as the “bread basket” of the Dominican Republic.

It is refreshingly cool, verdant and comparatively orderly. I find it also very fertile in planting, cultivating and growing the CFCA spirit.

In Los Almacigos, it was inspiring to see the relationship of the parish priest (Padre Jaime, or “Jimmy”) with the people of this rural zone. He seems to know everyone, even those in the more remote areas.

In Tireo, we were really tight in the little parish hall. The children were like the surf at high tide, edging inevitably toward the center of the stage.

As we were leaving, Maria Ortiz, sponsored aging, offered an enthusiastic farewell:
“Con esto, me despido y lo digo de corazon, con Dios y nuestros padrinos, tenemos mas alegria.”

Translation: “With these words I take my leave and I say with all my heart, ‘With God and our sponsors, we have more joy.’ ”

Thank you, Mary, and God bless.

With joy and gratitude I share these notes before heading for Costa Rica. There Cristina and I will accompany the sponsors in their mission awareness trip.

After the trip, we will participate in an exciting few days of CFCA formation for families and co-workers. We call these days “Encuentros.”

Know of our love and thanks.

Bob Hentzen
Dominican Republic
March 10, 2012

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